The journey begins
There is no history of food allergies in our families. We had no reason to suspect anything when we gave our darling son some peanut butter toast at 11 months old. At the time, the jury was out on whether or not parents should give peanut butter to youngsters or wait until they’re 25 before attempting it.
And thus began our relationship with peanut allergies. His reaction was merely a rash around the mouth. No breathing issues, no coughing. But an allergy like this is only as severe as the next reaction. Which is to say, it is to be taken very seriously. We have an Epi-pen. We have yearly trips to McMaster Children’s hospital. We have no peanut butter in our home. We are careful about what we buy. We’ve encouraged our church to be a safe place for others families with nut allergies. And we’ve tried a variety of peanut-free alternative spreads. Because we can.
The issue before me
As with peanut butter anymore, alternative school-safe spreads are not cheap. And each year when the plea goes out from food banks for peanut butter, I can’t help but think of families of children who can’t have it, and can’t afford an alternative. And I buy a few jars of a safe spread to donate. And it doesn’t feel like enough.
I’m turning 40 this month and I’m having a girly party, with cake martinis and fun finger foods. Honestly, I don’t need gifts. Having people around me who care about me and who want to share the occasion with me is enough for me personally. But I’ve been reading about people who have turned their birthdays into opportunities to help others (like the woman who did 35 random acts of kindness for her 35th birthday), and have found inspiration in their selflessness.
I have asked each invited guest to please bring 40 coins with her in lieu of a gift. Now in Canada, of course, we have 1 and 2 dollar coins. I don’t expect anyone to bring 40 of either, mind you. But a combination of coins with a few loonies and toonies thrown in will go a long way towards my goal. And what goal is that? My goal is to donate 40 jars of school-safe, peanut free spread to our local food bank this year. My birthday is too near to do this by then, so I’m using it as the catalyst for this endeavour.
Want to help?
I don’t know that I can raise enough to buy 40 jars on my own, but I’m going to do my best. For those in the Twitterverse, or elsewhere online who are reading this but obviously won’t be at my party, I am asking for your help as well.
I’d like each of you who are able to donate a jar of school-safe, nut free spread to whatever local food bank/food distribution association you have in your area and then let me know that you’ve done it.
There are several varieties to choose from, depending on where you are. Just make sure to read the label to ensure that it is indeed nut-free (some soy butters, for example, are processed in facilities that process nuts). Around here, there’s Wowbutter, Sunbutter, Golden Pea Butter, and Peabutnutter, that I know of and have tried (the Golden Pea Butter tastes like Pirate cookie filling).
Please help me reach my goal. Not for me, but for families who are dealing with this allergy who cannot afford to buy a safe alternative for their children, or to send with their children to a nut-free school environment.
*EDITED TO ADD* – If you want to follow this journey, please use the hashtag #40SafeJars on Twitter. And sign up for email updates. I’ll keep everyone posted as I approach my goal.
Update (November 10th) – My party was fun and the response has been great. The people at Peabutnutter have agreed to donate a few jars to their local food bank, as have some other generous folks form the interwebs. I have raised nearly $90 myself to buy some jars, have been given a few more and have bought some jars already. I’m within 10-15 jars of my goal. Please consider helping, and leaving me a message to let me know that you’re donating to your local food bank for the cause.